From tantalizing fatty foods to creative cocktails, the world is full of tempting but risky vices. It seems the more pleasurable the indulgence, the more hazardous it can be to your health. Fortunately, one of the greatest joys known to man is not only devoid of negative side-effects but is also one of the most wholesome.
It turns out that the health benefits of sex go way beyond the obvious release of tension. Getting busy between the sheets just once or twice a week boosts immunoglobulin A, the antibody that provides a shield against colds and other infections.
Also, because most sex positions require the continued thrusting of the body trunk, they emulate some pretty strenuous exercise routines. Sex is a “great mode of exercise,” according to Patti Britton, PhD, a Los Angeles sexologist and president of the American Association of Sexuality and Therapists.
While it isn’t a valid substitute for a regular cardio routine, having sex is physically strenuous and “doing it” for 30 minutes burns at least 85 calories. In fact, studies have shown that men who have sex twice or more a week, compared to those who engage in sex less than once a month, can reduce their risk of heart attack by half.
Behind those moans of ecstasy and beyond the more obvious physical dividends, there are also some perks to sex that you might not have thought of. Whether you’re a casual sexual contortionist or a Kama Sutra practitioner, you’re bound to use some positions that work and stretch the same muscles as those of a yoga enthusiast. Anyone up for the lotus?
There are even greater mind/body benefits for those who have delved into the Indian art of Tantric sex. It is believed that by focusing on the avoidance of climax for as long as humanly possible, Tantric couples can achieve a heightened mind/body experience.
Another good excuse for having either a roll in the hay or a solo bout of self-gratification is what happens when you do neither. The lack of sex can, when compounded with other life stressors, actually lead to sexual dysfunction. When men experience stress, normal hormonal release is slowed. This, in turn, impacts the master male hormone, testosterone. The result can be the death of even the strongest of sexual appetites.
On the other hand, according to a study by Scottish researchers who reported their findings in the journal Biological Psychology, sexual activity leads to overall stress reduction and lowers blood pressure. The study involved 24 women and 22 men who kept records of their sexual activity. When subjected to stressful situations, those participants who had intercourse responded to stress better than those who abstained.